ARENA Tuesday Seminar: Charlotte Dany

The first Tuesday Seminar of the Autumn term took place on 19 August. Visiting researcher and Assistant Professor at the Goethe-University, Charlotte Dany, presented her paper entitled 'Politicization of humanitarian aid in the European Union'.

Charlotte Dany

Photo: University of Oslo


The EU is the biggest contributor of humanitarian aid worldwide, taking its own as well as aid by the Member States into account. The Commission seeks to provide short-term assistance to people in third countries which are affected by man-made or natural disasters. It also spreads a particular normative view on humanitarian aid, which is strongly based on the principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence. Since many years, however, researchers have identified a trend of politicization of humanitarian aid, which gradually softens the fundamental humanitarian principles, leading it away from a focus strictly on needs (Barnett 2009). Others have identified a general trend of politicization of international institutions (Zürn et al. 2012). Against this double diagnosis of politicization, this paper seeks to show how humanitarian aid is being politicized in the EU.

It focuses on conflicts and mobilization processes in EU policy making on the Comprehensive Approach, the Resilience Strategy and the implementation on the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid. The paper finds that despite the EUs’ strong commitment to the humanitarian principles, humanitarian aid is being politicized through these policies, as they blur the lines between humanitarian aid and security policies or development cooperation. On a positive note, however, EU institutions also provide arenas for discussing these policies controversially and they actively reach out to and include different stakeholders.

Download the paper (restricted access)

Please note that this paper is work in progress and thus has limited distribution, please contact us if you would like access. Do not cite without permission from the author.


Charlotte Dany is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main. She was a guest researcher at ARENA from April to August 2014. Her research interests include international organizations, transnational actors and global governance, and humanitarian aid.


All welcome.

Published Aug. 13, 2014 8:06 AM - Last modified Apr. 24, 2017 3:06 PM